Brightside Brief

It’s Sunday and it’s time for some murder, book talk, John Carpenter and more murder. This is the best of the best stuff that I’ve seen recently on the interwebs or that I saw awhile ago, but STILL think about. If I’m still thinking about something it probably means either A: I’m anxiously ruminating on some inconsequential manner like whether I put enough tomatoes on that dinner salad or B: Something super crazy, weird, disturbing happened and I can’t stop thinking about WHY? HUH? WHAT?

Anyway, here are some of my favorites from category B:

  • The story of Tyler Hadley and the murder of his parents in Florida. This high school kid had a troubled history which got even more troubled when he decided to kill his parents and then have a party IN THE SAME HOUSE ON THE SAME NIGHT. You know, pretty normal teenage things, right? Can you imagine finding out that you were ripping it up at a friend’s house and then finding out Mom was dead under a pile of furniture in  the bedroom? Yeah, me neither.
  • I posted about this on my Facebook page earlier in the week, but it bears repeating. Did you know that there is a possible serial killer terrorizing the neighborhood of Seminole Heights in Tampa, Florida? I can’t remember the last time I heard about a possible ACTIVE serial killer being investigated. Long story short, DO NOT TAKE THE BUS.
  • I’m thinking about my Christmas list already and this book is at the top of said list. It’s the New York Times Book of the Dead which contains 320 obituaries + access to 10,000 digital obituaries that you can search by name. Nothing says a cozy Christmas Eve like snuggling up with a cup of hot chocolate and book about dead people, right?
  • I’m assuming most of you know the story of Sarah Winchester? She was the heir to the Winchester gun fortune who became convinced that her mansion was cursed by the souls of those killed by a Winchester gun and proceeds to go nuts putting continuous additions on her house. She had carpenters working day and night to build staircases that go nowhere, mazes, drains in sinks were made to have 13 holes, 13 candles in the chandelier, you get the idea. It evenutally had 161 rooms and one toilet (the other bathrooms were fakes used to trick the ghosts….good one Mrs. Winchester!). ANYWAY, there is a movie coming out in February starring Academy Award Winner Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester. She is going to act the HECK out of this thing! I can’t wait to see it. Here’s the trailer.
  • Halloween is coming in a couple of days and it wouldn’t be the same without, well, Halloween, the movie. On November 7th, I’m going to see THE John Carpenter (you know, the movie’s director and composer of the theme song) perform songs from this and other movies. You might be like, meh, that sounds boring, but when that Halloween theme song kicks in, it’s going to be nuts. I’m hoping I won’t be scarred for life, that song constantly in my head and my eyes dried out from being on the lookout for Mike Meyers around that bush over there.

I hope you enjoy these little tidbits and it makes your Sunday a little more exciting.

See ya next week!

p.s. How about that dead Mom under that chair?


Brightside Booklist + The Case of Maura Murray

All-American girl, Maura Murray, has a fiancé and no enemies. She receives a weird phone call and packs up her dorm, leaving everything behind. She emails her professors and says she has had a death in the family. Maura withdraws $280 from an ATM and stops at a liquor store.


is spotted with her car after it slid into a snow bank on a fairly deserted road near a wooded area. By the time the police get there, she’s gone. No footprints. No other evidence found at the scene.

Did I mention no footprints?

Maura Murray

Maura Murray disappeared in 2004 and hasn’t been seen since. This case has gone nowhere and there are still unanswered questions like what’s up with her weird relationship with her dad? Why have people “forgotten” key pieces of Maura’s story? Why doesn’t some of her family want to talk to investigators?

There are several theories about what happened to her, but they’re just theories. Did she flee somehow and change her identity? Did she wander into the woods and disappear? Did her dad do something to her?

The current, and most likely, theory is that someone picked her up in a vehicle and drove her away because…no footprints.

Who, though? Why? It’s killing me. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HER.

She was featured in an episode of Disappeared on the ID channel and I’ve watched a few of times. I’ve read websites focused on her case and I even joined an online club dedicated to trying to figure out where she is/was/who knows.

Maybe you could say I need a hobby, but I think this IS my hobby.

So,  when I found the book True Crime Addict by James Renner I was more excited than a person should be when browsing library shelves. Let’s just say that my five-year-old was completely nonplussed when I shrieked at him about my good luck. Whatever, he doesn’t get it.

True Crime Addict by James Renner

Anyway, this guy basically lived my dream of immersing himself in Maura’s case. He retraced her steps, interviewed strangers, friends and tries to pull ANY information out of her family. As a former reporter, he’s had some practice in hunting people down and he’s pretty good at it.

Ultimately, everyone is frustratingly vague and the case starts to affect his personal life (this part was NOT my idea of living the dream). He also weaves in a story about a member of his family that had a criminal history of his own, adding insight into why he has become so obsessed with reporting crime stories.

As you probably gathered, there is no resolution at the end of the story (I NEED TO KNOW, ALREADY!), but it was very readable. The insight into WHY it’s been so difficult to figure out what happened to her is fascinating, almost as fascinating as the disappearance itself. The answers to Maura Murray’s story are held by those who know her best and it’s so strange to “meet” real life people in this situation that have no interest in talking.

You guys, it’s weird. This is one of the best true crime books I’ve read in awhile and YOU should read it, too, so we can discuss. PLEASE. Or if you HAVE read it/know her story/are obsessed as I am, what do you think happened to her?


Click here or here for past Brightside Booklist reads. Trust me on these.



Pere Lachaise: The Most Visited Cemetery in the World

Pere Lachaise, with 3.5 million visitors a year, is the most visited cemetery on earth. It is hauntingly beautiful and serene with hills and tree lined walking paths (which look gorgeous in the fall!).

The most famous person buried here is Jim Morrison, but Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Edith Piaf and others rest inside it’s walls.

Napoleon opened the cemetery in 1804 and the first person buried here was a 5-year-old girl named Adelaide. At the time, the cemetery was so far out from the city no one wanted to be buried at Pere Lachaise.

Whatever marketing tactics they used were successful because by 1830 there were 33,000 people buried here. And now? Approximately ONE MILLION.

As you can imagine, they’re not handing those plots over so willy-nilly anymore. Unless you die in Paris or you live here, you’re not getting buried at Pere Lachaise.

My dear husband was so patient as I obsessively took pictures and walked around. I could’ve spent all day there.

I’m lying. I could’ve spent two days there.

Anyway, here are some of those photos:

The juxtaposition of the older tombs alongside the sleek, modern ones was interesting. I love the little lamb on the top of this one.

This was the first grave that grabbed my attention (really, no pun intended). Those arms holding onto each other? So simple, but moving. Handshakes used in funerary art are also used to symbolize a farewell from earthly existence and a welcome into heaven.

Check out that crow. There were a lot of crows which just added to the poignancy of the cemetery.

This blue door caught my eye every time I walked by.

A grave for a child.

This was a sculpture of a person crawling into the tomb. It was a large and imposing figure, for sure.

Skulls and other sculptures are used to remind the living to remember death (“memento mori”).

This was one of my favorites.


A view from the garden.

Jim Morrison’s grave. I was surprised how crowded he was back there. There is a chain link fence up to deter people from getting near it because it has been vandalized several times, but it’s clearly not stopping anyone.

The chain link fence and the tree where people leave love notes and chewing gum for him. In case you’re wondering, I did not leave my Hubba Bubba behind.

I saw this beautiful tree lined path on the way out.

Have any of you been to Pere Lachaise? What were your favorite parts?


Check out my recent trip to Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans here.